According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), “All NRI marriages solemnised in India would need to be registered within seven days and if the NRI marriages are not registered within seven days, the passports and visas would not be issued”. According to the officials, failure to update their marital status on passports can result in the document getting revoked.
The decision for mandatory registration of marriages within seven days was taken post the inter-ministerial panel comprising the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, met to map out legal solutions for redressing the issues faced by women in NRI marriages. Spurred by reports of several cases of “NRI husbands”, marrying women alluring an attractive lifestyle but instead deserting them, has led the Indian government to consider for tightening the law and bring the non-resident Indian offenders to book.
The WCD ministry had earlier constituted an Integrated Nodal Agency (INA) with representatives from the ministries of External Affairs, Home Affairs and Law and Justice to look into matrimonial disputes involving the NRIs.
As of now, there is no time frame to register marriages in India. However, a Law Commission report has recommended that the time limit to register marriages should be restricted to 30 days after which a penalty of Rs 5 per day could be imposed.
Another proposal discussed was holding the properties of NRI offenders in escrow in case they abscond abandoning their spouse. Escrow is a legal concept in which a financial instrument or an asset is held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completing a transaction. The move would require amendment of three legislations- Code of Criminal Procedure (CrCP), Marriage Act and the Passports Act.